Monday, May 31, 2004

The talk of the week

I see all around that people are talking about the just arrived first issue of Astonishing X-Men. It is, after all, the only X-book that could matter after Grant Morrison's run on the title. I haven't seen it, of course, being in Brazil and all, but I will talk about it a bit anyway.

To start, let's talk about Morrison. I read most of that already and I can say this: it was fun! You didn't need to know all about the X-Men, and yet you were not displeased with the way they were portrayed. They went to their core, almost iconic selves, and they kicked ass. Simple as that. Fun.

As an artist, I shall also talk about the pictures, and most of it was nice. I really like Frank Quitely's work, I enjoyed Igor Kordey's run, bizarre as it was, and I always like what Bachallo is capable of. The rest of the lot didn't quite cause any impression in me. Maybe that was the biggest turn off on the book for me: the constantly changing art team.

Now, Morrison went on to bigger and better things, and we're left with the left-overs of the X-Men line: the same creators who just switched books and characters, and a brand new book for the Buffy writer. He's the only one we don't know what to expect, really, and that's probably the only interesting thing about his X-Men book. Cassaday's art is great, I love the guy, but it's just another X-Men book where we know people will talk a lot and make jokes and sarcastic remarks about everything.

One last word, about the coloring. Here we have Laura Martin again coloring Cassaday's work. When they worked together on Planetary, I thought comics were fun again, and great to look at. I'm just a little afraid now that, after her "vacation-time" in Florida working for CrossGen, her coloring style went too cute and overdone and might get in the way of the artwork.

I'll get back to it once I see it. But you already saw it, feel free to give your opinion.

( and don't forget to check out our interview at newsarama! )

Hi, this is Gabriel speaking and I am alive and well and, some times, I will be putting stuff here too.
So, there is an interview with us about URSULA at

There are some interesting questions there to which interesting answers were given.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Our working routine

The Challenge

The first time we went to an Eisner Award, Frank Miller was the keynote speaker. He opened the ceremony saying that we, the artists, should be always facing the challenge that is doing comics in a time when it's much easier doing anything else.

I can say I only draw for a living. I do a lot of illustration work for magazines and newspapers, I do story-boards for films, advertising and music videos, I even did caricatures for a while (but that time is long gone now). I know it's possible for anybody to earn decent money as an illustrator. In time, if you're good enough, you don't even have to work yourself to death, choosing only the better jobs (or being chosen by better people).

So why comics? Independent comics, to be accurate, where it will take a while for you to make money (money? what money?)

Let's go back to the challenge. You do comics because of this chalenge you must face, because you just can't take the easy road. There's only one road for you, and it's the road of a thousand comic book pages. For you, comics is not what you do, it's what you are.

Let me tell you now, you are in trouble.

Aren't we all?

And isn't it great?

Monday, May 24, 2004

The guy, the thing and the place.

In Brazil, we have awards for comics as well. Our equivalent to the Eisner Awards is called HQ Mix, and last week they announced the nominees. We're running in three categories this year:

-best artist (F‡bio Moon and Gabriel B‡): We always sign everything together, so we probably will never compete against each other.

-best independent publication (Feliz Anivers‡rio, Meu Amigo): This is a comic book we self published last year and got a lot of attention, a lot of praise and is almost sold out by now. It's a great story about friendship and this is the one I think should really win in this category.

-best artist's blog (Os Loucos): This blog's Brazilian brother, the blog we write in portuguese to tell our brazilian fans what we think, what we're doing and how to do comic books (yes, we spill the goods in that one) is a strong nominee. And this is a recently created category, but I think it's a good one, because in Brazil the market is not big and it's of great help if you have a blog for people from all over the country to see what you're up to. We don't put stories on-line, but people get interested in our work just by reading what we have to say (write, actually), which is something I hope happens around here as well.

The ceremony will happen sometime in June, I think, and I'll let you know if my brother and I won anything.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Doing a comic book the brazilian way

PART THREE: No excuses.

Deadlines are for super heroes. Those magazines survive mainly on the addiction of fans who need their fix every month. If you need to have your book out every month, you need deadlines, and if you have to draw five to ten pages a week, your main concern in that the pages get done, but if you are an independent creator, you can take advantage of the more flexible schedule and make sure your work is the best you can do.

If you're doing your own thing, you'll publish and you'll sell it, you don't have to hurry, but you can't take forever either. You have to tell yourself that the work needs to be done, and that no one else will do it for you (or even pressure you about when it will be ready).

This week was crazy and a lot of work landed on us. Illustration work, the one we do so we get money to pay our bills, and the one we do so we only worry about doing the best comics we can, even if we still aren't getting paid. My point is, I didn't draw as many pages as I wanted. And I know next week will be even crazier, so I don't know how much work on our story we'll do then as well.

So what do I do?

I keep writing down that I'm doing this magazine for the San Diego Comicon, I say in interviews that I will have a new comic for the San Diego Comicon and I let everybody know what I'm doing, so I have no excuse but to do the damn thing.

Because that's what making comics is about: realizing you're the only one who can stop yourself from telling your story.

adding to the above

So far, I've been doing these drawings to start getting into the story's mood. This last one was a more serious one, to be used as a reference for all four artists to follow. Next week, I'll try to post drawings from the others.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

how should I begin?

Beginnings are tricky, if you ask me. How are you going to begin your story? Not every beginning is the first thing that happens, sometimes it's not even the first thing you remember. You can start your story at any point, and thus comes the importance of the first thing you'll say: in a way, your point of view is there in the beginning, your choice of the importance of events tell us about the author more than it does about the story. It's a personal information that we only get at the beginning, it's the most important choice an author must make with the story he wants to tell, because it's not about the story, it's always about the way you'll tell it that will make a difference in the end.

Shame on the Heart Gone Coward in the Chest

"Shame on the heart gone coward in the chest!" cried out Roland, the once lost nephew of Charlemagne and now his left arm in battle, in the face of battle against the raging hordes of pagans that approached. He was outnumbered, his odds were poor, but his motives were right and he couldn't do wrong with his god. Even if it meant his death, he wouldn't run from his fate.

Neither should we.

We are outnumbered as well, and the odds are always against us. It's never an easy task to create from the ground up worlds people should believe in, characters to care for, stories to follow. We already have busy lives to live, and yet we search in our minds to find the lives of many imaginary characters, perhaps not even much different from ourselves, to see how this others lives are lived as well. We do more than just live our lives and we care for more than ourselves: We care for the way life is told.

We care for the way life is remembered.

For the lives we tell - and the lives we live - should be worth living.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Where great men go to die

It's just amazing how good can an unknown comic book be. We expect nothing less from comics made by the big companies, mainly because there's a lot of money involved in making them, so they better be good, but when you have a comic book that is made by a small independent publishing company (so small it's practically a one man show) that has a cover that looks this good, you should really check this out, even if you never heard anything from the creators involved.

And so you can read something about the creators, here's the press release for this book:



"O Death, thou comest when I had thee least in mind!"

So cries Everyman, the carefree protagonist of medieval literature's classic morality play, The Summoning of Everyman, when commanded by God to judgment. In a graphic adaptation, writer Shane L. Amaya
(Roland: Days of Wrath; Lord Takeyama) and artist Bruno D'Angelo (Prey; Lord Takeyama), set Everyman's tale in Jerusalem, in the late 12th century between the Second and Third Crusades, on the eve of a historical battle known as the Horns of Hattin. The armies of the King of Jerusalem stand arrayed against Saladin, medieval Islam's most famous Sultan, at whose hands the Latin army suffers a defeat that stuns Christendom.

In Horns of Hattin, Everyman is transformed from an allegory for the stage into a faithless Crusader who must reconcile his sins against his good deeds; prove the faith he has in friends, strength, kinsmen, and material things; and find salvation before his life's end, speared on the field of battle. The political intrigue, Everyman's role as a Crusader knight, his spiritual quest, and the disaster at Hattin combine to make a story that is at once medieval and contemporary.

Horns of Hattin is the third collaboration between Amaya and D'Angelo, and Amaya's second adaptation of a medieval classic. The action of the first, Roland: Days of Wrath, a retelling of the French epic poem,The Song of Roland, also centers on a historical defeat for Christians: the 778 A.D. battle in which Charlemagne's rear-guard was ambushed by Saracen brigands in the Pyrenees.

Horns of Hattin is published by Terra Major, established in 1999 as an independent publisher of historical fiction, and is the publisher's first original graphic novel (OGN). Horns of Hattin will debut in July, at San Diego Comic-Con International.

Horns of Hattin is a softcover OGN, 120 black-and-white pages in length, and will retail for $15 US. Intended for mature readers, it is currently listed in Diamond's Previews catalog (MAY04 2901; ISBN 0-9704149-1-9) for products shipping in July.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Doing a comic book the brazilian way

PART TWO: First things first.

My brother and I came up with a story, one that each one of the artists involved would have a part to play. We firmly believe it's best to know who you're working with and know what he's capable of, so you can always push him harder into getting better with his work without kidding yourself into trying to do something that can't be done. Being brothers and working together since forever, we always had this sensation of a friendly competition while we were working, and that helped improve our work.

Now, about the new story. After the story was set, the first thing to do (and that's what we've done this week) is the research. The story takes place in a "present day" scenario, so we went out in the streets and took pictures of some buildings. We also looked into fashion magazines to see how our characters should look like. Finally, we did some sketches to warm up our hands and to know, from the real images we had, everything else we would have to create. It's fun to create something based on something that already exists. You'll come up with an imaginary place (or person) that will still feels real and looks original.

If we were working for a major publisher, we probably wouldn't have the time to do all this, at least not for an entire week, but since we're on our own, we have all this time to make our comic look good.

To finish things off, we did thumbnails of every page so we could have a clear view of the pacing and the flow of the story.

Now, let's do some pages.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

three questions

Two thoughts brought me to do this. First, I got curious about what people might ask about. Second, I'm also curious if people will actually come out of their silent watchtower in which they quietly observe what I write and will come down and ask the three questions, whichever they are.

*3 Questions

I want everyone and anyone who reads this to ask me 3 questions, no more no less. Ask me anything you want and I will truthfully answer it. Then, I want you to go to your blog, copy and paste this allowing your friends (including myself) to ask you anything.*

Monday, May 10, 2004

Portfolio review lines

Nowadays, I find myself looking over other people's artwork when I go to conventions here in Brazil, reviewing and giving advises, but it wasn't that long ago that I stood in line in one of those portfolio reviews you'll find in many big conventions.

Those lines are creepy. You'll see that the guy sitting next to you is a flat out copy of Jim Lee, only that he would be a drunk and blind Jim Lee, and the other one just came out of school and is actually showing drawings he did in his school notebook, right in between the notes from his last class. Suddenly you flatter yourself thinking it's going to be easy to impress the editor whose line you took, and you're probably right, but something I learned in portfolio review lines is that, no matter how good you are, they're probably not going to hire you right away. They'll say your stuff is great, they'll give you a card and they'll tell you to keep sending them stuff.

The only time someone offered me a job in a portfolio review line, the "reviewer" was in fact some lame guy who sat in the Dark Horse table while the Dark Horse editor hadn't arrived so people thought he was the Dark Horse editor. He saw a lot of people's pages, loved the stuff my brother and I had to show, and offered us some work on "religious super heroes". Then he gave us his card and we realized - as many who were also at the line - that he didn't work at Dark Horse.

We had to get in line again when the Dark Horse editor finally appeared.

An early start

Today, I woke up so early it wasn't even day yet. I haven't been up this early since I was a kid.

I need a coffee.

Later, I'll tell a little story.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Doing a comic book the brazilian way

PART ONE: get together.

There are a lot of ways of showing your work to people. You can show the original pages, you can show them the reduced xerox copies, you can even show all the pages with the balloons in place, ready to read.

And you can show them your comic book.

When you're a storyteller, you should pay attention to the story you'll tell, and it's always good to know where the story is going and how the story will end. So, if you just want to tell a story, just do the pages, but if you want to know how committed you are with your own work, nothing says it better then your own comic book. The effort alone to put a comic book together, see it through all the way fro the drawing board to the printer, and after that also go after sales , all that shows that there's nothing you'd rather be doing than comics. It's all in the attitude you take towards your work.

And so, I'm doing a comic book for the San Diego Comic Con. Not a single page is done yet, but that's what I'm doing, And I'll try to take every Friday to talk about the backstage process of the work.

First thing you have to do is guarantee the work force. This time around, it's not going to be only my brother and I, so we called up two of our friends, also brothers, to collaborate in this new endeavor. And we all got together last wednesday to talk about the story we wanted to tell.

It's very important to choose who you'll be working with in case the work is more personal. If you're not doing it for the money (what money?), then you really have to trust the people you work with. You are all sharing a dream, and no one want this dream to be shattered.

It only takes one person to do an entire comic book, and it also only takes one to destroy it, so when you're working in four people, make sure everybody knows what their parts are and get ready to work.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Outsmarting the ages

URSULA is coming out from AiT/Planet Lar in July. It's already there on the AiT site, in the "all ages" category.

All ages.

And then somebody asks "why is it an all ages book? What does that mean? Is it for kids?"

A story that appeals to kids doesn't need to be just for them. It doesn't even need to be done with the children being the primary target. The first thing that matters is that the story you tell is a good story, for everybody likes a good story, no matter how old they are. Then you have to always remember that children are smart, sometimes smarter than us in some ways, and that they know a lot of things that, in time, they may forget, so the story you tell doesn't need to be simple and shallow, it just have to be honest.

Some stories are ageless. You can read them when you're young and they'll make you laugh. You can read them when you're already a man (or a woman) and they will make you think, they will make you cry. If you read them when you're old, they'll make you remember and they'll make you happy. This ageless stories will go to the essence of each one of us, they will tell us about who we are. Whenever you read one of these stories, you'll still be yourself and the story will touch you somehow. You'll think you would want your friends to read it, they would like it too. Even your parents would like it.

Even your kids.

Saturday, May 01, 2004


Sometimes I feel I've been repeating myself. And, when I think about it, I also think that maybe that's a problem in the comics world as well.

I grew up reading comic books. In a matter of fact, I grew up reading. Book, comic book, medical prescript, there I was, reading it. Early on, I fell in love with it. Not that my life was dull or uninteresting, on the contrary, but it was great knowing that, no matter how great and wide your life is, when you pick up a bunch of stapled together papers with a story written (or drawn) in it, you can go even wider and everything is possible.


Now, maybe we forgot about that part. Maybe we just like the comics we read (and the comics that sell) and we want to do more of those comics, instead of trying to think about the possibilities we have and the chance to do something different. I started out wanting to draw super heroes, I still think maybe someday I'll give it a shot, but soon I realized I didn't want to tell those kind of stories, for the best I could do would be creating an homage to the super hero comics I read as a kid.

Now, that conclusion led my brother and I (for we work together) into the independent scene, that world of more intimate stories, where the greatest achievement for the hero in your story is getting sober the next morning, just like the rest of us. Jokes aside, I liked the possibilities in doing stories with regular people. It seemed I could tell stories that I have read a lot in books, but not in comics, and it also seemed that I could tell those stories for people who had never read a comic book before.

Well, now I'm original?

Not always. Nowadays, I see a lot of independent creators that have also fallen in the formula, for every genre has it's golden boys and it's very easy to start out wanting to be like the ones you admire. "He's the next Daniel Clowes" or "the next Tomine", "the next Charles Burn". It exactly the same as being "the next Jim Lee". In one way, it's good, it's a easy way for people to say they like your work, but it also means they've seen it before. How will you make a difference being, from the start, the same as it already is?

When Jeff Smith arrived, he wasn't "the next" nothing. He was the first. Sure, his work has influences, pays homage to the past, but Bone was so fresh, so well done, so original, that he, from a very early start, became the reference from where "the next Jeff Smiths" would come. The retailers and the readers are still waiting for the next Jeff Smith, for the next Bone.

What we need isn't another "next". It's another "first".

All the stories have been told, now lets tell them again as you have never seen before.